Friday, January 3, 2014

Equal opportunity for equal ability and effort

There are plenty of military occupations that aren't a good fit for a certain category of people. These occupations demand brute strength and endurance under a heavy load. There are some people who are fit enough to run a marathon. But, can they carry a wounded buddy, two rifles, and a 65-pound rucksack to safety 50 yards away? No Marine in his right mind wants to fight alongside another Marine who can't.

This issue has repeatedly reared it's head at least since the early '70s when I first joined the Air Force as an ROTC cadet. In spite of reason and basic biology, social engineers keep trying to put women into military occupations where they simply don't fit well. Yet, much to everyone's surprise, the Marines (the last holdouts to be politically cleansed) are learning that women don't have the strength of a man!

When I was flying the C-141 jet transport in the Air Force back in '76-'81, I was occasionally asked to participate in firefighter training. My job was to show the firefighters how to shut down the airplane if the crew is incapacitated. Then, my crew and I served as training dummies as if we were said incapacitated crewmembers.

In those pre-women-on-the-rescue-crew days, it was always very reassuring to know that the firefighter yanking me out of the seat and carrying me down two aircraft ladders was another 200-pound man who met rigorous fitness standards -- not a 110-pound woman who couldn't do 3 pull-ups.

I never got a single bump, scrape, or bruise from those training events. I'm sure there are a handful women that could do that too, but in general, a female firefighter in today's equal-opportunity military would probably either break her neck and mine getting me out or would be forced to leave me roasting in the fire.

As a 23-year veteran, I saw cases where women did just as well as men in their assigned specialty -- sometimes better. I also saw cases where they were a handicap to the unit and a danger to themselves. I saw cases where they exploited their status as women to get easier duty. One common case in aviation maintenance is for women to claim pregnancy during bad weather knowing that pregnant women shouldn't be exposed to radar and radio waves and fuel fumes common on the flight line.

Equal opportunity is great -- if everyone is equally up to the job. But, if any person or group of persons isn't capable of doing a particular job correctly, safely, and without jeopardizing the mission or fellow servicemen, they need to find a job that's a better fit.

The armed forces exist to fight when called upon -- not to be a sociology lab.

BTW, Even I can't do the job anymore either. That's why servicemen are retired when they're still relatively young, but getting too old to get on the horse.

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